When we want to make a change in our life, the best place to start is to find time for new energy and activity to put toward that change. And the best way to make time for something new is to simply observe what you are currently doing with your time. For more about time management, I highly recommend Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. It was through that book that I was introduced to the idea of keeping a time log and I’ve found it a valuable exercise to do from time to time.
Here is a Time Sheet for Moms that I created to help us as moms track several aspects of our day. It’s flexible depending on what you’re wanting to track. I find it incredibly helpful to vary my logging based on what my current focus is. This is partly because it simply isn’t practical to work on every area of life all the time.
There is no right or wrong way, do what works for you. You may want to log what you ate or just ‘snack’ and ‘meal’ so you can see how it is spaced throughout the day. The columns can be used for any topic you want. I will often track my baby’s nursing schedule, when I snack or eat a meal.
I found that traditional time logs didn’t work for me because motherhood is so full of multi-tasking and what I was thinking about was often just as important as what I was doing. Thinking is real work, and it affects my productivity levels and how I use my time. When I’m nursing the baby or cooking dinner I could be thinking about a book I just read, a way to have quality time with one of boys, the next blog post I’m going to write, a project I’m doing for work, or how tired I am.
Tracking our emotions is also a revelatory exercise, and one that I’m newer at, but I’m excited about adding this element to my occasional time tracking experience.
One you’re ready to try using this time sheet, pick an amount of time, something between 3 and 7 days. I like to do one week, starting on any day of the week, whenever I get inspired. And then pick 2-3 things you’d like to track.
Starting tomorrow, I’m going to use this sheet for 7 days to track 1) what I eat and 2) anything I spend money on, and then also 3) my general emotional state during that time of the day.
My two biggest goals for the year involve weight loss and paying off debt, and both of these are going to require some regular discipline. They also both can easily be derailed by emotions so I’m hoping that proactively tracking my emotional state and making me reflect on it will keep me from being as impulsive or negative. I’ll post next week about how it went.
How do you think a time log exercise could help you? What would you track?
I realized I didn’t answer that last question, right now I’m largely tracking my time in order to feel less overwhelmed and to see how everything I’m responsible for might best fit into a typical week.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What are you making time for?